Mission

The mission of the Mexican Bird Resurvey Project is to understand how massive habitat changes over the last 100 years have affected the distributions and genomes of birds at 50 sites throughout Mexico that were originally sampled by Chester C. Lamb in the 1930s through 1950s (see History). One aspect of this work is to leverage community science data like eBird and a network of professional and community scientists in the U.S. and Mexico to resurvey Lamb’s sites. The Moore Lab will visit 10-15 of these sites with collaborators in the coming years, while the others will be resurveyed either on-the-ground by others or using citizen science data available on eBird.

What is the Lamb 50? These are 50 of Lamb’s sites we selected for special focus, chosen for being well sampled and spread across the country. The entire set of over 300 sites Chester Lamb visited can be viewed here.

Want to get involved? Have a recommendation for a site to revisit? Drop us a message and sign up to receive our mailing and get updates on the project! (We won’t spam you, we promise.)

The Mexican Bird Resurvey Project is funded by National Science Foundation grant DEB-1652979

MBRP Mural

Project Staff


The Moore Laboratory of Zoology at Occidental College unites museum collections with cutting-edge DNA technology. The mission of the Moore Laboratory of Zoology is to answer outstanding questions about the origins of biodiversity and how species respond to environmental change by linking information from the habitats and genomes of species with physical specimens in our collection. To this project, Moore Lab staff and students bring expertise in the birds of Mexico, geographic information systems, biodiversity informatics, as well as deep knowledge of Chester C. Lamb and Robert T. Moore's life and work.

History

In 1929, the arrival of Robert Thomas Moore (1882-1958) to Los Angeles was splashed onto the pages of the Los Angeles Times. Moore, his wife Margaret, and their young daughter Marilynn had just returned from an expedition to Ecuador. There, Moore had scaled two of Ecuador’s most fearsome volcanoes, Mount Chimborazo and Mount Sangay. Tales of derring-do were not all Moore brought back. Packed neatly into boxes were 3,000 bird specimens, which Moore and local collectors had spent months acquiring.

The motive for Moore’s move to California from Maine was ostensibly business. His Borestone Mountain Company was well known for breeding silver foxes, and the climate of the San Gabriel Mountains was gaining a reputation for providing them ideal conditions. But after he arrived, Moore devoted more of his time to another of his pursuits, ornithology. An affiliate of Caltech, Moore fell in with a burgeoning group of local ornithologists interested in bird taxonomy (or the describing and naming of biodiversity), including another Caltech affiliate, Donald R. Dickey, who by that time had amassed the largest privately held bird collection in the United States. When Dickey died suddenly in 1932, and Moore’s attempts to take control of his collection were thwarted, he decided to build his own collection that would rival and surpass Dickey’s.

To help him realize this vision, Moore turned to Chester Converse Lamb (1882-1965), who had been a fixture in Los Angeles ornithology from his youth. In young adulthood, he moved to Berkeley along with a cadre of naturalists under the mentorship of the naturalist prodigy Joseph Grinnell. Lamb had just finished years of grueling collections for Grinnell across the Baja peninsula, but parted ways with Berkeley on ill terms when he lost an eye in an accident and was denied a disability claim.

The fruits of Moore and Lamb’s collaboration were almost immediately apparent. In 1935, Moore trumpeted the discovery of a spectacular new species, the Tufted Jay (Cyanocorax dickeyi), which had somehow evaded Western knowledge through expeditions that had dissected Mexico for centuries prior.

In 1951, Moore moved his growing collection from his house in Pasadena to Occidental College, where it became The Moore Laboratory of Zoology. With the world’s largest collection of Mexican bird specimens, its legacy continues to reveal itself through scientific research – now focusing on DNA – and public outreach, as well as conservation efforts that directly benefit the very species that make up the collection.

Collaborators


Want to become a collaborator? Get in touch under Contact Us below!

COUNTRY WIDE

Dr. Adolfo Navarro Lab, Museo de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico, México

Dr. John Klicka Lab, Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

CONABIO (Inicio Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad), Mexico, México

  • Dr. Humberto Antonio Berlanga García, Coordinador del Programa NABCI y Temas de Vida Silvestre
  • Vicente Rodríguez Contreras, Especialista NABCI

eBird, Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

  • Chris Wood, Project Leader, eBird
  • Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez, Quantitative Ecologist

Dr. Ricardo Canales-Del-Castillo Lab, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, México

 

FOR INDIVIDUAL MEXICAN STATES

Guanajuato

Rodrigo Lopez, Red de Observadores de Aves de Guanajuato

Veracruz

Huilotl Toxtlan Guías Comunitarios de los Tuxtlas

Amy McAndrews

Jorge Montejo

Tamaulipas

Dr. Arnulfo Moreno, Director of Biodiversity at Comisión de Parques y Biodiversidad de Tamaulipas

C. Estefania Moreno-Vasquez, Instituto Tecnológico de Ciudad Victoria

Yucatán and Campeche

Arturo Rosado, Cardenales Birding Club

 

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